Monday, January 09, 2012

Hank Brown's a fixture at Greenville Downtown Airport (KGMU), Greenville, South Carolina.

Dixie, Hank Brown's Boykin Spaniel, accompanies him to work daily.

For 53 years, Hank Brown has offered the same explanation when asked about his thousands of work shifts at the Greenville Downtown Airport.

“Once aviation gets in your blood,” Brown says from his office on the eastern side of South Carolina's busiest general aviation airport, “you can't get it out.”

There seems to be no question that the excitement of aviation seeped into Brown's heart and mind a long time ago. He was only 14 years old in 1959 when he found a part-time job at the airport.

The plan back then, as a sophomore at Greenville High, was for the part-time job to provide some spending money until Brown enrolled at Clemson University.

But before that happened, Brown's job became full-time. And when he learned to fly by age 18, the college classroom never sounded quite as exciting.

“I decided to fly one year (commercially) to get the experience when I had the chance,” says Brown. “I never made it to Clemson.”

Hired as a lineman by then-textile giant J.P. Stevens, Brown soon fell in love with all things surrounding aviation. And there was plenty to like, because the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport did not yet exist. Three major national airlines -- Southern, Eastern and Delta -- all flew out of the Greenville Downtown Airport.

But it was a prominent businessman, the late John D. Hollingsworth, who had more to do with Brown's career. The young Brown became friends with Hollingsworth, whose estate benefits several Greenville charities today, as they took flying lessons at the same time in the early 1960s.

“I got to know him and we became friends,” says Brown, who was nearly 30 years younger than Hollingsworth. “When I learned to fly, he asked me to work for him.”

Brown, who made his first solo flight at age 16, did that for the next 27 years.

By the mid-1980s, he was still in love with flying but he foresaw a significant decline in the textile business. That's when Brown, with some valuable help from Hollingsworth, made a pivotal decision that benefits him to this day: He made the shift from the cockpit to the desk.

“Things were slowing down ... layoffs had cut us from six pilots to four, and more layoffs were likely,” says Brown. “I asked (Hollingsworth) to let me work in the business end of the plant and fly part-time.”

Within just a few years, Brown saw increasingly fewer textile-related flights leave the Downtown Airport runway. As that happened, Brown was gaining valuable experience in running a business.

“I attribute a lot of my success to what I learned from Mr. Hollingsworth,” says Brown, whose father was an auto mechanic who operated a shop on Augusta Road. “Flying was his (Hollingsworth’s) hobby, and he was like a second father to me.”

Within a few years, Brown made the decision to build and manage two hangars on the non-tower side of the airport, which had been empty from the time the airport opened in 1926. Today, Brown is the president and owner/operator (along with son Jay) of the Greenville Jet Center, which provides service to planes in 17 hangars on the east side of the runway.

His Jet Center is the largest fixed-based operation (FBO) at the airport and the largest FBO in South Carolina. He leads a staff of 12 that provides fuel, maintenance and repairs for about 275 planes that are quartered at the downtown airport.

The company owns a flight school and two other FBOs in the state (at the Donaldson Center and the Camden Jet Center).

A father of two and grandfather of four, Brown has an increasing interest in what might be the next addition to the Greenville Downtown Airport -- a child-friendly park. Airport officials are hoping to eventually add one near the Runway Cafe on the western side of the airport, and Brown pledged in August 2010 to donate 1 cent per gallon of fuel sold to the project. Over the past 16 months, that donation has grown to more than $10,000.

“I think a park would be a wonderful thing (here), and that was even before my number of grandchildren doubled,” says Brown.

“From the time I started working here 53 years ago, I’ve loved to watch planes take off and land,” Brown says. “It does my heart good to see a good landing without the bumps.”

Press Release - Air Traffic is Up at the Greenville Downtown Airport (KGMU), Greenville, South Carolina

For Immediate Release
Air Traffic is Up at the Greenville Downtown Airport

“In 2011, air traffic at the Greenville Downtown Airport rose 6% over year ending 2010!",  according to Joe Frasher, Airport Director at the Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) in South Carolina. "In 2010, GMU had 55,267 operations, which are counted as either a takeoff or a landing.  In 2011, GMU had 58,537 operations," Frasher added.  “I am happy to see us regain some of the traffic that was lost during the last few years of economic decline”, said Frasher. 

“Greenville Jet Center sold 5% more aviation fuel in 2011 than in 2010," according to Hank Brown, Owner of Greenville Jet Center, which provides all the aviation fuel at the Greenville Downtown Airport.  In 2010, we sold 828,572 gallons and in 2011 sales rose to 864,862 gallons," according to Brown.  "We still have a ways to go, but I sure am glad it looks like we are on the upswing!" Brown said.
"While we can't pinpoint exactly what has caused 2011 to be a better year than 2010, we do know that in hard economic times aviation is the first to be hit and the last to recover," according to Frasher.  "Hopefully this means that the economy is improving!"  said Frasher.  "We could all use some good news going into 2012!" Frasher said.
GMU is the busiest general aviation airport in South Carolina and is a self-sufficient entity with financial strength that doesn't rely on local taxpayers for funding. GMU is home to Greenville Jet Center, the largest Fixed Base Operation (FBO) in S.C., as well as more than 25 other aviation-related businesses creating 453 jobs that annually contribute more than $35.2 million to the Upstate economy. 

For more information about GMU please visit or contact Joe Frasher at 864-242-4777 or

Greenville Jet Center has been in business since 1989.  The company has a flight school and owns two other FBOs in South Carolina:  Camden Jet Center in Camden and Donaldson Jet Center on Donaldson Field which is part of SCTAC located in Greenville.  For more information about the Greenville Jet Center, please contact Hank Brown or Jay Brown at 864-235-6383 or 864-232-7100.

Press Release: Carlos Graziani Joins Landmark Aviation As General Manager Of Its Tamiami Location.



(Houston, TX – January 9, 2011) Carlos Graziani joins Landmark Aviation as General Manager of its Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport (TMB) location. Carlos brings with him extensive experience in the general aviation industry.

“I’m excited to take on the role of General Manager and look forward to increasing Landmark’s business at TMB,” Carlos explained.

Prior to joining Landmark Aviation, Carlos served as Operations Manager for Atlantic Aviation’s Tucson location. He has also held management roles at Atlantic Aviation’s El Paso facility as well as at Jet Direct Aviation. Carlos attended both the University of Central Florida and the University of Texas at El Paso. He is currently working towards his Masters of Business Administration.

“Carlos’ strong work ethic and customer service focus make him a great fit for our management team,” Regional Vice President Jim McNeill noted. “He is fluent in Spanish, which will only enhance his ability to effectively serve our customers in the South Florida market. We are excited to have him on our team.”

About Landmark Aviation

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Landmark Aviation operates a network of fixed base operations located throughout the U.S., and in Canada and Western Europe. The Company offers a wide range of services, including FBO, MRO, charter and management. Landmark is a portfolio company of GTCR and Platform Partners, LLC. For more information, visit

Estimated $100,000 damage in airport fire. Elkhart Municipal (KEKM) Elkhart, Indiana.


Firefighters deal with blaze at Elkhart Municipal Airport (PHOTOS) 
A three-alarm fire early Monday morning at a city-owned hangar at Elkhart Municipal Airport caused an estimated $100,000 damage.

Chief Fire Investigator Tony Balzano says the cause of the fire at "Premier Aviation" is "undetermined."

An airplane that was being worked on inside the hangar sustained minimal damage. No one was hurt.

A fire broke out early Monday morning in a hangar at Elkhart Municipal Airport. No one was hurt in the fire, but there were valuable items being kept inside the hangar.

"My understanding is there is an aircraft in there, I'm not sure what type of aircraft it is, also a vehicle or two," said Elkhart Assistant Fire Chief Shaun Edgerton.

Edgerton said there are also some offices, living quarters and work areas inside the structure. He said he believes everything in the hangar was damaged either by the fire or smoke.

Fire crews were called around 1 a.m. Monday. The building was smoking and burning from the inside when they arrived on scene.

Egyptian-Turkish naval exercise

by info live tv on Jan 8, 2012

The Turkish and Egyptian armies concluded one of the biggest military exercises held in the region in recent months. Dozens of Turkish and Egyptian vessels took part in the exercise, as well as F-16 jets and helicopters. The forces simulated a frontal clash between naval forces, exercised methods of defense in high seas, facing hostile vessels and firing live ammunition at aircraft. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan discussed the importance of his country's navy several months ago. Erdogan, who visited Egypt in September, was asked if Turkey's plan to send warships to escort Turkish vessels headed to Gaza could lead to a military clash.

Papua New Guinea accepts RI jet intercept story

Papua New Guinea (PNG) says it has it accepted Indonesia’s explanation over the Air Force jets scrambled to meet a plane carrying top PNG diplomats through Indonesian airspace.

Bilateral relations between the countries remained “solid” and needed to be further expanded, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’ Neill said according to a statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post.

O’ Neill earlier threatened to expel Indonesian Ambassador to PNG Andreas Sitepu from Port Moresby, following reports that two Air Force jets intercepted a PNG Falcon jet carrying Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah and other senior officials to PNG from Malaysia on Nov. 29.

Indonesian Foreign Ministry Marty Natalegawa summoned PNG Ambassador to Indonesia Peter Ilau on Friday to offer an explanation for the incident.

On Monday, the PNG government issued a press statement announcing its satisfaction.

“Prime Minister O’Neill is satisfied with the Indonesian government’s response to the mid-air incident involving the Falcon jet and reassures Indonesia on maintaining diplomatic relations,” the PNG Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration said in the statement.

“Prime Minister O’Neill accepted and thanked the Indonesian government for its high-level and prompt explanation that the incident arose out of a ‘discrepancy of the original flight clearance authority’ issued by the Indonesian government for the Falcon aircraft.”

The Indonesian government said that the approval for the Falcon jet to use Indonesian airspace was for the period of Dec. 3 -7, and not Nov. 29, the day of the incident, the statement further said.

The Indonesian government was also quoted as saying that the TNI’s interception of the PNG jet was to “visually identify the aircraft” and that it was in line with “strict domestic standard operating procedures and normal international aviation practices” to deal with such situations.

“When it was established that the aircraft belonged to the PNG government, the Indonesian Air Force fighter jets retreated. The Indonesian government is still carrying out further investigation internally to verify if there was any formal approval granted for the Falcon jet to use Indonesian airspace on November 29, 2011,” PNG added in the statement. 

Engine trouble forces floatplane to make emergency stop

Ganges Coast Guard boat brings in some passengers from a Harbour Air​ plane that made an emergency landing in Ganges Harbour Thursday afternoon.

The investigation continues to determine what forced the pilot of a Harbour Air seaplane loaded with 13 passengers to make an emergency landing in Ganges Harbour on Thursday afternoon. “What you see in a CSI program in one hour is about a year’s worth of work,” said Bill Yearwood, manager of air investigations for the federal Transportation Safety Board​.

The investigation into what caused the de Havilland Turbine Otter’s engine to fail while en route between downtown Vancouver and Victoria Harbour is being investigated by Harbour Air staff under the observation of TSB personnel. Yearwood said results will be compiled and released within a matter of weeks.

“If at any time we feel there is something that is systemic that could impact the fleet, we have the opportunity of raising our investigation status but, at this time, we feel that the company is doing a good job,” Yearwood said.

The pilot, a seven-year employee at the airline, glided the plane into Ganges Harbour at approximately 1 p.m. on Dec. 29. Passengers on Flight 215 were transferred to another plane by Ganges Coast Guard personnel and Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers. None of the passengers sustained any injuries during the incident.

“It was scary, a bit freaky but we were lucky it happened where it did,” said Deric Vanstaden, who was flying with wife Alison, both 33.

He said they heard “a big noise” and then the plane started to go down.

The Vanstadens praised the quick action of Coast Guard and Harbour Air officials.

One passenger, a woman in her 70s, gamely climbed out of the coast guard inflatable and directly into the plane that was to take them the rest of the way.

Passengers were loaded onto another Harbour Air Otter and on their way to their destination within minutes of getting back to the dock, virtually unshaken by their narrow escape.

In a Tuesday interview, Harbour Air executive vice president Randy Wright said the plane has been taken out of service while the investigation proceeds. Harbour Air’s flight schedule has not been affected by the incident.

In the 11 years he has worked with the company, Wright said, this is the first time he’s encountered such an incident at the airline.

Yearwood said the investigation will include a look at the failure of turbine blades caused by metal fatigue in the aircraft’s PT-6 engine, a factor that resulted in the crash of a Cessna with a similar engine near Port Alberni in 2006.

Vietnam Bars President Robert Mugabe’s Plane From Its Airspace

Harare, January 09, 2012 - Air Zimbabwe has delayed President Robert Mugabe’s return from his holiday in the Far East after an Air Zimbabwe long haul aircraft, a Boeing 767-200 which left Harare International Airport on Friday was barred from flying over Vietnam’s airspace.

The plane was on its way from China to Singapore to pick up the Zimbabwean leader, who has been holidaying in the Far East since last month.

Informed sources disclosed that Air Zimbabwe was denied flying rights over Vietnam from China and had to use a longer route which flies through the South China Sea and hence delayed Mugabe’s early return from his holiday by several hours. Mugabe was due to arrive at Harare International Airport at around 21.00 pm on Sunday.

Sources said the flight hurdles could have been caused by the long suspension of Air Zimbabwe’s flights to China and the Far East. Last month the national airline suspended flights to China and Malaysia because of fuel shortages and also stopped international flights to London and Johannesburg to avoid the impounding of its aircrafts which were seized at Gatwick International Airport and OR Tambo International Airport last month over debts owed to a US and South African firm.

“The Air Zimbabwe plane took a longer route that planned on our way to Singapore because we didn’t have clearance codes to navigate through Vietnam’s airspace,” said the sources.

Last month Air Zimbabwe failed to ferry President Mugabe to his holiday destination as its only operational long haul aircraft was impounded in London over a US$1.2 million debt and later developed a technical fault which was only fixed out of Mugabe’s departure schedule.

This forced Mugabe to rely on an unnamed local diamond mining company which leased a plane for him to travel to Singapore.

Meanwhile a former Air Zimbabwe employee has added fresh misery to the country’s ailing state-run airline after impounding four vehicles to recover his terminal benefits after quitting employment early last year.

The Sheriff last week attached four vehicles including a Mercedes Benz belonging to the airline’s acting chief executive officer, Innocent Mavhunga to recover US$49 206.81 owed to Ian Dudman, a former Air Zimbabwe pilot who resigned in March last year.

The seizure of the airline’s property followed high court Judge Justice Tedious Karwi’s ruling which was granted late last year ordering Air Zimbabwe to pay Dudman his dues. Justice Karwi also
ordered Air Zimbabwe to pay 5% interest on the outstanding terminal benefits. This was after the former pilot took Air Zimbabwe to court in May last year seeking to recover US$49 206.81 in unpaid salaries, allowances and terminal benefits after he parted ways with the ailing national airline in March.

Despite being served with summons to pay Dudman his monies, Air Zimbabwe chose not to settle his dues forcing Dudman’s lawyers of Coghlan, Welsh and Guest Legal Practitioners to attach and take into execution three Mercedes Benz Compressor vehicles and a commuter omnibus.

The three Mercedes Benz Compressor vehicles belong to Mavhunga, Moses Mapanda, the airline’s general manager for passenger services and Nicholas Munjere, the general manager for finance.

The impounding of the airline’s vehicles follows the seizure of Air Zimbabwe’s planes in South Africa and the United Kingdom by Bid Air Services and American General Supplies over debts amounting to US$500 000 and US$1.2 million respectively.

Apart from the threat of the seizure of the airline’s assets, Air Zimbabwe is also confronted with wild cat strikes, where workers regularly stage protests at the airline’s headquarters demanding payment of their salaries, which haven’t been paid for the past seven months while only two planes are operational at the moment as other aircrafts including the Chinese-made Modern Arch 60 are grounded due to technical faults.